“Refugees have no choice. Do you?” (UNHCR)
He lit his cigarette and jumped right in, “You are an educated woman, what do you think about healthcare in the United States. ” Granted, this is a rather normal question sitting around the university or in conversation waiting for everyone to show up to a business lunch these days. However, I can’t say that I’ve ever talked politics with someone who came to the U.S. as a refugee before.
The conversation continued in this course of questioning and thoughtful opinions on politics, government and politicians and I found myself quite engaged in this topic which I typically avoid in social situations. This citizen of the United States was born in Bosnia, survived the war and took the opportunity given to him to make a new home in the United States. We spoke of the beauty of opportunity and the way in which those who came as Bosnian refugees have taken what was offered and run far with it. “Look at Utica!” he noted, referring to this nationally known story of refugee presence bringing about urban renewal. Yes, these are are the possibilities that are easily forgotten when National Grid bills are six months overdue and the search for jobs overwhelms most interactions.
The refugee story can be a story of hope… actually, I might argue that it naturally is a story of hope, or survival and a pursuit of more. They may have no choice, as the UNHCR says, but they most certainly have life which they cherish, protect and value more in each day than I often do in a year.
Today, World Refugee Day was celebrated around the world. It is a day in which refugees in camps and resettled around the world, as well as the world community at large, pay tribute to refugees. This Saturday, we will be gathering those that have come to make Syracuse their home, to welcome and celebrate their presence, continue to learn and grow from all they have to teach us and one another.Will you join us?
Saturday, June 23rd
10am – Parade from Northside CYO on N. Salina to Syracuse City Hall
11am – Flag Raising & speeches at Syracuse City Hall
Noon-4pm – Festival at Hanover Square (ethnic food, dancing, music and more)